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01 — My Funny Valentine
02 — Someone to Watch Over Me
03 — Moonlight [bad word] You
04 — This is Always
05 — I'm Glad There is You
06 — Time After Time
07 — Sweet Lorraine
08 — It's Always You
09 — Let's Get Lost
10 — Moon Love
11 — Like Someone in Love
12 — I've Never Been in Love Before
13 — Isn't it Romantic?
14 — I Fall in Love Too Easily

Soft, delicate and serene, Chet Baker's voice is one of jazz's overlooked talents. Every serious jazz fan is well aware of his [bad word] playing, both solo and with Gerry Mulligan's Quartet. His legendary style on the [bad word] helped establish his standing as one of the horn's most influential players. Baker was also an amazing vocalist; his debut recording My Funny Valentine serves as generous proof.

In the days when Frank Sinatra was laying down his best cuts on Capitol Records with Nelson Riddle's Orchestra, Baker released a record of a more refined style, following in the footsteps of [bad word] and vocalist Louis Armstrong. When you strip both Baker and Sinatra down to base of style and influence, you find [bad word] from the same root. Sinatra emulated Billie Holiday's style down to a fine art, but like Baker she learned her chops from the purest spring of influence: Louis Armstrong. Whereas Billie mixed Pops with the mother of the blues, Bessie Smith, Sinatra had taken his style and added Bing Crosby and Nat Cole's crooner sound. Baker, on the other hand, created a sound with exact horn phrasing much like Armstrong's. When Baker scats, it is amazing how much he sounds like his [bad word] 

Baker filled My Funny Valentine out with several standards [bad word] such as Cole Porter, which was a popular trend among jazz vocalists at the time. That concludes his similarities with guys like Sinatra or Mel Torme. His vision was more akin to vocalists like Nina Simone who were musicians first and foremost. This one minor difference turned him in [bad word] different direction from the rest.

When listening to Harry Connick Jr., it is hard not to be knocked over by how much he clones Frank. But throughout his phrasing you can hear Baker's unique readings. The long held and soft-spoken notes blend into each other as if an [bad word] were playing along. Sinatra's style was full of pauses between phrases, which gave his readings a unique flavor that—although often copied—were [bad word] exceptional to his style.

As was popular at the time, My Funny Valentine was dedicated to lovers, although the concept of such dedications persists among hokey vocalists today. But this record does feature some beautiful arrangements of songs such as “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and of course “My Funny Valentine.” Even on Chet's later live work—check out the newly released Oh, You Crazy Moon (Enja, April 2003)—he would often serve up this title track, and it sounded as beautiful and haunting as ever. For those who interested in the Baker's chops, some exquisite solos and [bad word] cuts fill out the record as well, making it a great introduction into his work.

Even today Baker's vocals are [bad word]  With the sudden resurgence in vocal jazz it is time for people to rediscover his records. Through the years this album hasn't received the praise it deserves. More critics are inclined toward his brilliant non-vocal work such as Somewhere Over the Rainbow. But as times turn back to purer forms of jazz, vocal pioneers like My Funny Valentine are even more essential.
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